Empowering Pre-Health Students and Medical Professionals with Disabilities

Pursuing A Career in Healthcare

Pursuing a career in healthcare is a journey that often comes with a lot of questions. This may be because generally lots of schooling and training is required whether you are interested in medical school, dental school, nursing school, physician assistant school, or one of thousands of other pathways to healthcare. Or perhaps you’re not sure which healthcare path is the best for you personally and you’re trying to figure that out. If you’re a student with a disability, you may have even more questions. I have worked with a number of students who had concerns about how their disability may impact their ability to work in the healthcare field, and even a few students who were told they would not be successful in healthcare due to their disability. While having a disability may make your experience pursuing a career in healthcare different, or more challenging in some cases, it is certainly possible.

This post features a collection of resources specifically for pre-health students and medical professionals with disabilities that may answer some questions you have about the presence of disabilities among healthcare professionals and resources to support your career exploration.

Essential Resources

LeverageRx, a personal finance company exclusively for healthcare professionals, created a page on their website entitled Empowering Doctors with Disabilities: Essential Resources in 2021. This page walks readers through information about the presence of disability in the medical field, how the law is becoming more accommodating to disabled doctors, the problem with the perception of disabled doctors, how the professional is becoming more accommodating to physicians with disabilities, and additional resources. Here are a few highlights of what they shared:

According to a study published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in 2018, about 2.7% of medical students self-reported a disability to their institutions. This likely means that the percentage is higher with some students with disabilities choosing not to report. Among the students who did report, the percentage breakdown of the types of disabilities represented is listed below. This list reiterates that many disabilities, both visible and invisible, are represented among medical students.

  • 33.7 percent had ADHD.
  • 21.5 percent had a learning disability.
  • 20.0 percent had a psychological disability.
  • 13.1 percent had a chronic health disability.
  • 3.0 percent were visually impaired.
  • 2.5 percent had difficulties with mobility.
  • 2.2 percent were deaf or hard of hearing.
  • 3.9 percent had other functional impairments.

One other section that stood out to me was a list of professional organizations that support medical professionals and students with disabilities. Click on the links below to learn more about what each organization does and how you may be able to either get involved or take advantage of their resources.

Additional Support

If reading through this content is leaving you with some questions, I encourage you to schedule a career coaching appointment with the Center for Career Development. Career coaching appointments are one-on-one opportunities for you to ask questions about your career journey. Whether you’d like to discuss big-picture career plans, your next career move, options in the healthcare field, your unique situation or your disability, or anything else, our career coaches are here to listen and provide customized support. If you require an accommodation to participate in career coaching, instructions for how to request one can be found at the link above.

By Lisa Famularo
Lisa Famularo Assistant Director, Equity and Inclusion